Ivan Rips Through Oil Patch

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Hurricane Damage is Light Companies Report.

By Larry Pearson

With reports from AP, MMS and the Times Picayune. Packing 160 mile an hour winds, Hurricane Ivan stayed on a course that took the powerful storm through the heart of oil and gas production in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) before making landfall just east of Mobile, Ala. Initial reports from the Minerals Management Service, which oversees oil and gas production in the Gulf, indicate that damage is relatively light. Five mobile drilling rigs were adrift, but later found. Four fixed platforms had disappeared and presumably sunk and one was leaning. The MMS also reported three pipeline ruptures; one starting a fire that was contained. No doubt there is additional damage, some underwater, that has not been discovered as yet, but it appears that there was no major infrastructure incident as there are 33,000 miles of pipeline and 4,000 platforms active in the GOM.

Among the damage was an Ensco jackup drilling rig that was found 40 miles from its drilling location and other rigs that suffered damage to their helicopter deck. Prior to Ivan arriving on the scene, the energy companies evacuated workers from 545 platforms and 69 drilling rigs shutting in four million barrels of oil and 17 billion cubic feet of gas, according to MMS. That represents about 20% of the petroleum consumed in one day in the U.S. This lost production will have minimum impact on the long-range supply of energy, according to MMS officials. "We have about 75 vessels working in the Gulf," said Joe McCall, vice president of operations for the Seacor Small Boat Division. "When a storm threatens, we go into a passenger hauling mode rather carrying supplies," McCall added. "Our vessels started evacuation from the deepwater rigs on Monday and by Tuesday evening the job was done.

During the weekend we reversed the process and returned all workers to their rigs and platforms," McCall said. There was no evacuation in the western Gulf as the Hurricane passed well east of that area. The hundreds of vessels that service the rigs and platforms also appear to be in good shape. "Fortunately in the boat business we can move our assets and that is what we did," said Roger White senior vice president of Edison Chouest Offshore. Chouest has more than 100 vessels in the Gulf and in nearby Port Fourchon, La and White indicated there was no damage to their fleet. The storm's path fortunately went east of the major shipyards in Louisiana and those clustered on the Mobile River. Rigdon Marine who is having 10 OSVs built in Mobile at Bender Shipyard and Repair indicated all their vessels under construction weathered the storm with no damage.

Freeport Shipbuilding Group, Freeport, Fla. also escaped the storm without damage. Their new vessel Solaris, based at the Sandestin Bay Towne Marina, was moved to the shipyard and secured to prevent damage. "This is the third storm this year that we have moved the vessel out of the path of hurricanes," said Jim Murray, president of the shipyard.

Eastern Shipbuilding Group in Panama City also escaped major damage. "We had four boats in the water that we tied off real well and they survived without damage," said Ken Munroe of Eastern. "We did get some minor building damage, that we are addressing," Munroe added. It appears that the shipbuilding and oil/gas production interests along the Gulf Coast definitely dodged this bullet.

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